Jeff is a well-known speaker and expert in life insurance and financial planning. He has been featured and quoted in Nerdwallet, Bloomberg, Forbes, U.S. News & Money, USA Today, and other leading finance websites. He is a licensed life insurance agent and has helped over 3000 people secure life insurance. He is licensed in all 50 states & DC. Jeff has spoken at top insurance conferen...

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Benjamin Carr was a licensed insurance agent in Georgia and has two years' experience in life, health, property and casualty coverage. He has worked with State Farm and other risk management firms. He is also a strategic writer and editor with a background in branding, marketing, and quality assurance. He has been in military newsrooms — literally on the frontline of journalism.

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Reviewed by Benji Carr
Former Licensed Life Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Oct 14, 2020

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As we age, we find that our bodies cannot do some of the things they once could.

Some of the natural effects of aging can be circumvented or slowed through living an active and healthy lifestyle. Others, however, we have no control over.

Does Arthritis Affect Life Insurance?

One of the side-effects of aging – arthritis – can actually occur at almost any age, depending on your genetic makeup and a variety of other factors.

The impacts of arthritis on an individual’s lifestyle can range from mild to severe, and its impact on life insurance premiums can also range accordingly.

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What Is Arthritis?

Arthritis is broadly described as stiffness and painful inflammation of the joints. It refers to roughly 200 musculoskeletal disorders that impact joints as well as tissues with inflammation.

Studies show that arthritis can be caused by autoimmune processes impacted by the following:

  • Environment
  • Genetics
  • Physical factors
  • Environmental factors, occasionally

Types of Arthritis

Diagram showing arthritic jointsThere are several types of arthritis, and the effects range in severity from mild joint pain upon movement to crippling disabilities.

Acute Arthritis

Acute arthritis is a type of arthritis caused by either a localized injury or infection.

This type of arthritic inflammations are easily treated by antibiotics and, once treated, often don’t present long-term concerns.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis impacts between 30 and 40 million Americans and can be severe, causing long-term disabilities. In fact, roughly half of individuals with this type of arthritis will experience a disability within five years of being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.

The onset of this form of arthritis can happen abruptly or it can evolve slowly, and there are certain medications designed to ease some of the pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis doesn’t just impact joint function, either. Weight loss, anemia (a deficiency of red blood cells) and fevers are also commonly associated with this type of arthritis.

Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis

Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, also known as Still’s Disease, can impact children as young as newborns and can inhibit growth and cause crippling. Roughly ⅔ of children with this eventually recover; however, crippling impacts can be lifelong.

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is sometimes referred to as degenerative, or hypertrophic, arthritis. It typically is seen in older individuals and can be caused by a joint injury or by being overweight.

Marie Strumple Arthritis

Marie Strumple Arthritis primarily impacts the smaller joints around the spine, causing immobility and diminished chest capacity, which impacts breathing.

Arthritis Treatment Options

While all of these types of arthritis impacts an individual’s joint and overall health in different ways, each type has some treatment options available to help alleviate their symptoms.

For example, mild rheumatoid arthritis can be treated by taking aspirin or an anti-inflammatory drug.

Mild and severe cases of this type of arthritis can be treated by:

  • Steroid injections
  • Anti-malarial drugs
  • Penicillamine
  • Immunosuppressive therapies

Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is often treated in the same ways, depending on its severity.

Acute and Osteoarthritis can be treated through the use of aspirin, antibiotics (acute) or anti-inflammatory medicines.

Depending on the severity of Marie Strumple Arthritis, anti-inflammatory drugs may be used to decrease the inflammation of the joints surrounding the spine and to increase the capacity of the patient’s chest cavity.

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Underwriting for Arthritis

The good news about underwriting arthritis is that most individuals in otherwise good health will be able to qualify for preferred or standard ratings.

This is because there is no immediate threat to an individual’s mortality from most types of arthritic conditions. Underwriters will look at your arthritis as one component of your overall state of health and will rate your risk accordingly.

However, due to the potential for life-threatening disabilities, some moderate-to-severe forms of arthritis may impact your insurance ratings. For example, a severe case of Marie Strumple Arthritis impacts an individual’s ability to breathe properly and can shorten his or her lifespan.

If an individual has a form of degenerative arthritis that has already impacted his or her lung or heart function, he or she may face high premiums or declines.

Each individual is impacted differently by his or her arthritic and it is important to keep up-to-date with your medical checkups and to follow any prescribed form of treatment.

Communicate with Your Agent

The first person you should contact when applying for life insurance with arthritis is a reputable independent agent.

You may be thinking that, because most arthritis isn’t really considered a risk to underwriters, that an agent isn’t necessary. In fact, an agent is necessary at every step of applying for life insurance – no matter your risk status.

An independent agent will be able to quickly and efficiently find the carriers who look favorably upon arthritis and will help you communicate your risk (or lack thereof) to underwriters, thus saving you time and money.

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When discussing your arthritic condition with your agent, he or she will need to know a few key pieces of information:

  • The date you were diagnosed with arthritis
  • With what type of arthritis were you diagnosed?
  • The tissues impacted by your arthritic condition
  • Has your condition ever disappeared? If so, when?
  • Has your condition relapsed? If so, when?
  • Any medical conditions that could paint a more accurate picture of your arthritis
  • A list of medications or treatments you are taking for your arthritis

All of this information – along with an updated medical screening – helps paint an accurate picture of how your arthritis will impact the future of your health and your life insurance premiums.

Your agent will take this information and analyze it along with the other information you provided, and will be able to estimate what risk category you’ll fall into, as well as what your premiums might cost based on the size of the policy you need.

Final Thoughts on Life Insurance with Arthritis

Living with arthritis is difficult; finding affordable life insurance shouldn’t be.

It isn’t easy to accept that our bodies may have trouble performing the simplest of tasks, and it can be frustrating to think that something over which you have no control can end up costing you more in life insurance premiums.

It is important to keep in mind that your arthritis doesn’t define you. Underwriters may look at you in terms of a series of risks, but a good agent will look at you as an individual.

If you are worried about how your arthritis will impact your life insurance, give us a call today.